Austin Jackson Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Able to mirror speed rushers
Gets depth in his drop to neutralize speed rushers
Doesn't have to reach for rushers
Good height, length, weight to play on the edge
Bends at the knee
Fast to the second level
Fires out of his stance
Able to pull
Can hit blocks in space
Franchise left tackle skill set
Lots of experience against quality competition
Can set up too far inside or outside
Needs to improve hand placement
Should get stronger to sustain blocks longer
Should improve ability to sustain
NFL teams are always looking for dependable left tackles who can help keep their quarterback healthy given the importance of the passing game. It can be very difficult to find left tackles with Jackson's natural size, speed and athleticism, so he is an intriguing prospect for the next level.
There are a lot of natural strengths to Jackson. He has very quick feet and innate athleticism that allow him to get depth in his drop and neutralize speed rushers. He should be an asset to take on the fast edge rushers, because he can get off the corner and prevent them from running the loop around the edge. With his quick feet and an ability to bend at the knee, Jackson doesn't have to reach after rushers and is not a waist bender. He is light on his feet and does a nice job of mirroring defenders around the corner to keep them from putting heat on the quarterback. There are occasions that Jackson allows speed rushers to get upfield from setting up too far to the outside or inside. Thus, he will need to work on that. For the NFL, Jackson could be very valuable to protect his quarterback against fast edge rushers.
There are a lot of raw elements of Jackson's game for him to improve, including his hand placement, his setup, and his balance. At times in 2019, he would get away with some mistakes because he is so athletic and can compensate for errors, but in the NFL, it will be harder for him to get away with that. Proof of that was provided in the bowl game against Iowa's A.J. Epenesa. Jackson could have issues in the NFL with powerful edge rushers, so he has to get better at sustaining his blocks and maintaining a hold on defenders. Strong bull rushers could give him problems, and that is a point of emphasis for his improvement at the pro level.
In the ground game, Jackson fires out of his stance to engage edge rushers. He is quick to the second level and is able to pull well to hit blocks to the inside. If Jackson adds strength, it would make him a better run blocker by letting him pack more punch at the point of attack.
Team sources say Jackson is a good kid who will interview well in the leadup to the 2020 NFL Draft plus will work out well because of his excellent skill set. Earlier in 2019, Jackson took a leave from the Trojans in order to donate bone marrow to his younger sister, and he played well upon coming back to the team.
For the NFL, Jackson looks like a future starting left tackle, and he could develop into a Pro Bowler if he can get stronger and refine his technique. If he adds strength to be able to anchor and get better as a run blocker, he could be a special player. Still, Jackson is adept at blocking on the edge and matching up against speed rushers. Thus, he should be an asset for protecting a franchise quarterback and would be a good fit in a passing offense that throws the ball a lot.
In speaking to some team sources, they believe Jackson will be a first-round pick with the potential to be a riser throughout the draft process. Some other team evaluators say they graded Jackson as a late first-round/early second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: D.J. Humphries. Jackson's skill set, including a rare combination of size, quickness and athleticism reminds me of Humphries coming out of Florida. Humphries (6-5, 307) also needed to get stronger for the NFL, and while it took some time, he hass turned into a solid pro. In the NFL, I think Jackson will be a better version of Humphries if he lands with quality coaching.